So here we go! Gotta upload this story here too.
After many changes as to what this story would be about, I chose this one!
This fic starts after Cora's death, and as I will also explain within the story, Regina and Emma had a bit of a healthier relationship before Cora came to town.
I have to thank Tiff and Lola for once more hosting this Big Bang, and of course the wonderful people who encouraged and beta'd this: btvsobsessed623, mandyrosask and misslane1981!
Last but not least, the amazing kingstonsong for the wonderful drawing!
I hope everyone enjoys!
Emma watched as the door to 108 closed, and sighed. It had been almost two months since she had seen Regina, two months since Cora had died.
Well, not died, murdered. By Snow White no less. And while it was true that Cora had been a vile and dangerous woman, there had to have been another way. Some kind of prison to hold her would've been better than death, especially seeing how distraught it had left Regina. But between Gold and Snow, Cora's fate had been sealed, and Regina paid the price with yet another gaping hole in her heart.
She had locked herself in her house, and the only one who ever saw her was Henry. Emma would drop him off by the gate to the Mills residence, watch as he walked up the steps and rang the doorbell. The door would swing open, and Henry would walk inside, the door closing behind him with a definitive click and barely any sighting of the owner of the house. Emma wasn't allowed into the property because of the defensive bubble that Regina had erected. Henry said that it was so no one would come bother her, but Emma was certain it was to keep out the more angry citizens that would want to take advantage of her more fragile state. So she settled with getting reports from Henry. And since Regina was no longer Mayor, she had very little to do, and no reason to leave the house. She did gardening, some reading, cooking, and cleaning. It definitely wasn't the life anyone would hope, but Emma's parents seemed satisfied with the outcome.
"It's not like while the 28 years the curse was in place she had much else to do," David commented.
Snow, although she was still seeing Archie on a daily basis to deal with the guilt of killing someone else, had accepted that it had been a necessary evil and agreed. "He's right, Emma. Regina feeling remorseful over her mother's death seems a bit hypocritical considering all the lives she's ripped apart."
Emma gave a noncommittal hum and left it at that. She knew Regina was no saint, but everyone deserved a second chance; she knew she herself had done some things in the past that wouldn't be considered as part of the 'good' way of life. Granted, it was nothing as drastic as Regina, but she had started trying to change for Henry; Emma knew that, and she had even begun a budding friendship with the woman, trying to come together for Henry's sake.
It had all taken a back seat and derailed the minute Regina began siding with her mother, not even explaining why she had the sudden change of heart. But Emma had taken a chance that Regina had a plan and not tried to press on when Regina clipped, "I know what I'm doing, Ms. Swan."
And yes, they had even returned to the whole Ms. Swan and Madam Mayor dynamic, which always hit a nerve for Emma. Still she had backed off, though now she regretted not trying to do more. Maybe if she had, things would've turned out differently.
But all she could do now was sigh and head to the diner for some food. She would also try to ask around for a place for her to live, without her overbearing parents who were trying to compensate for lost years.
"You look like hell decided to take you out for a wild joyride," Ruby greeted as she approached Emma's spot on the counter.
Emma hummed and dragged her hand down her face. "That obvious huh?"
"Kinda. And as your friend I say, talk to me." Ruby sat down on the stool beside her and looked expectantly.
"Aren't you also my godmother or something?" Emma smirked, and Ruby smacked her on the arm.
"We're not talking semantics. So what's got you glum? Love problems? Family problems? Ex-mayor problems?" Ruby then added, "Or all three of them at once?"
Emma groaned because of course it was obvious. "Clearly my subtle methods of coping aren't working."
"Honey, you don't do subtle. You come with pomp, circumstance and an entire state college's marching band."
"Kick my ego while it's down why don't you?" Emma deadpanned.
Ruby smirked at her friend. "Oh come on, don't change the topic, tell me what's on your mind."
"It's Regina, no one's seen her for two months and I'm worried about her. I hate that my parents just don't care about her, they aren't interested in checking up on her and just keep her a prisoner," Emma explained with a mournful sigh.
"Well she locked herself up in her house, that's not on your parents," Ruby attempted to counter, but a glare from Emma got her to put her hands up placatingly. "Sorry, not trying to be a stickler here."
It was true that Regina did this to herself, but Emma's parents made it quite clear that if she weren't already holed up in her home - and completely inaccessible to anyone - she would be properly locked up and have her powers stripped away. So she was screwed either way. Emma clarified it all to Ruby, who frowned and nodded. Emma sighed. "I just want to help her, let her know that not everyone hates her and that she has someone on her side."
"Fair point. But okay, she's holed up and has nowhere to go. She doesn't want anyone around but Henry, how can you help her?"
"I thought about sending him with a letter," Emma shrugged. "He delivers it and she reads it. Then she will know, and maybe even let me in."
Ruby levelled her with a look. "That's pitiful. Plus, your writing looks terrible, it's like chicken scratch; she won't be able to decipher what you want. She'll probably think you're criticizing her."
Emma huffed and crossed her arms. "Geez, critic much? Then what do you suggest?"
"That'll seem like I'm trying to woo her!" Emma responded, scandalized.
"Please, like you don't have a crush on her?" Ruby teased, wagging her eyebrows and grinning.
"No! I mean yes but….that's not the point!" Emma's splutters just kept fueling Ruby's grin, which soon morphed into a smirk.
"Then what is the point, oh wise Saviour?"
Emma ground her teeth at the title. "It's about knowing she has an ally. If I tell her I have a crush on her, all I'm getting is a fireball to the head."
With the lack of any other options, Emma thrust a bouquet of flowers into Henry's hands the next day, and sent him off to his mother's, confusion marring his face. He had been given no explanation, only that he had to deliver them to Regina.
"Hey mom," Henry greeted with a smile as her saw her from behind the door. He wished his mom wouldn't hide, but he also knew the town didn't much care for her walking around.
"Hello to you too, who are the flowers from?" Regina responded, a soft smile on her face as she closed the door. She was so glad she still had his company, and that Emma had accepted her request. Perhaps sending it via a crow had been a bit too much, but when the doorbell rang the next day, she knew that it had to be Henry, the only one apart from her who could cross her barrier. And so it continued, every other week she would get to spend time with him, like everything was normal. The very first day, she had sat down with Henry and came clean with him, explaining everything. He finally understood and forgave her, and that was all that was important to her.
Well, almost. She saw Emma wistfully watching from the sidewalk every single time Henry came over, and she wished she could still maintain a friendship with Emma. But she knew it couldn't be. Her parents would start a riot, and surely Emma wanted nothing beyond a stable relationship for Henry to feel comfortable with.
"They're from Emma." Regina frowned, wondering why Henry would be getting flowers from his other mother. Her frown deepened when Henry added, "They're for you."
"Why?" Regina blurted, baffled. She picked them up and examined the bouquet of yellow and orange roses and smiled. They looked pretty enough, and it was a sweet gesture, though the reason why was a mystery. Emma had nothing to gain from trying to get close again to Regina. Unless it was a trick. No, Emma wouldn't do that.
"Dunno, she just gave them to me and said 'they're for your mom' so here they are. There's no card or anything," Henry explained. Then he excitedly asked, "Can I go put them in a vase and water them?"
Regina allowed him to do so with a smile and she wondered if maybe there was a deeper meaning to the flowers, like maybe it was a secret message Emma was trying to send. But then she scoffed. That would be ridiculous. But still, she googled it out of curiosity. She smiled at the yellow flower's meaning, friendship. It was a sweet gesture, maybe they had been picked due to their meaning, and Emma was trying to reach out to her in the hopes of rebuilding their friendship, for some inexplicable reason.
And then she looked up what an orange rose meant. Bridging the gap between friendship and love, symbolized by the yellow and red roses, respectively. She paled. Emma couldn't be serious. Either that or it was a joke in very poor taste.
On the bright side, at least there were no red roses.
Henry came padding in with the vase held firmly between both hands. "Hey mom, there was a red rose in the middle of the bouquet. I brought it closer to the top so it can grow."
Regina tried to create a habit of not swearing in front of Henry, so right now she was internally cursing in English and Spanish. This couldn't be happening.
"Thanks again for the flowers, Belle." They were in the library, and Emma was perusing some books to take home and read. It helped to pass the time when interacting with her parents was too much.
"No problem Emma," Belle responded with a friendly wave. She wondered if Emma knew what kind of flowers she had delivered. It had been a special request by Ruby, who wanted Emma to just admit her feelings already, certain that something good would come out of it. Belle was also quite partial to the romance blossoming, being a romantic herself, so she agreed.
Emma ventured over to the leather tomes from the Enchanted Forest, curious about the stories she would find there. She found one for obscure magic and took it out. She had magic as she had recently learnt; she should probably train in it, lest she wanted to blow something up accidentally. Flipping through it, she came across the instructions for a potion that piqued her curiosity.
In no time at all, she was rushing Belle to sign the book out, and the latter did so in extreme confusion, watching as Emma ran out the door after she was done, and headed to the dinner in a half-crazed sprint.
"Ruby!" she exclaimed as she burst inside the establishment. Granny gave her a strange look from behind the counter, and the only customers there, an elderly couple, startled at her erratic entrance.
The waitress approached her with apprehension. "Hey Emma, what is it?"
"I've got the perfect idea for a gift to give to Regina," Emma grinned and led her over to the right so they could sit, the only table on that side, by the window, and opened the book to the page she had bookmarked with her finger.
"A spell to give someone warts? I don't know Emma, I don't think that's going to get the reaction you want from Regina," Ruby cautiously responded, wondering if her friend had truly lost it.
"No, the one on the other side!" Emma tapped the opposite page with an impatient finger.
"You want to turn her into an animal?" Ruby tried again.
"Not her. Me! I can turn into a dog!"
Ruby was certain that Emma was one peanut away from becoming a full nut house. "Why would you want to turn into a dog and how in this green earth would it help you with Regina?"
"I can keep her company! Look, she doesn't want anyone else's human company clearly, so I figured I could do that instead, show her that she doesn't have to hide."
"But what about you two becoming a couple?" Ruby pressed.
Emma did a double-take. "What?! I need to be in a good place with her before I try that. I can't just barge in right now and proclaim my love. Not that the protection spell would let me through either so I could do that."
Ruby flinched. Oh boy, that wasn't good news. "Then you might not be too happy about something."
She explained to Emma what she had done with the flowers, and Emma looked apoplectic. "Oh fuck, definitely doing the dog thing. She won't want me anywhere near her after this!"
That would explain why Henry told her she looked shaken after the flowers incident yesterday. And without any card to explain, she would definitely think the flowers were the message, rather than an odd assortment of flowers she had picked out. She made a mental note to be more careful when making attempts at arbitrary gifts.
Glancing at the ingredient list, Ruby asked, "Shouldn't you first worry about finding out if you have the ingredients?"
That was a good point, and Emma decided to get Ruby and Belle to help her, the latter mostly to pilfer from Gold's storage. After all, they had created a fiasco from her feeble attempt at a white flag, turning said flag into a crude love poem shouted from the rooftops.
About a week later, all the ingredients were gathered. The easiest had been to grab a bit of golden retriever hair from old Mr. Petersen's pet, and the hardest had been a newt's eyeball, which Emma was still not sure she wanted to know why the potion needed it in the first place. It'd be hard to bond with Regina if she had an eyeball sticking out of her fur somewhere.
"So according to the spell book, this will activate your ability to shift back and forth between the two forms," Belle explained as she finished the potion. "You do have to be careful because there are some side effects."
"Like what?" Emma asked.
"It doesn't say," came Belle's murmured response as she squinted at the text. "Books in the Enchanted Forest weren't too descriptive in that sense."
"I can tell," Emma grumbled, growing impatient with waiting.
Ruby piped up, "I can tell you one. Clothes. You probably won't be able to stick with your clothes after you transform into a dog, so when you transform back, don't do it in the middle of Main Street, I don't think anyone wants their sheriff streaking across town."
Emma made a mental note to store clothes in places that she could change in.
"Uh, question. What happens when someone needs you?" Ruby asked, raising her hand a bit for emphasis.
"I'll uh, figure something out." Truth was, no one really needed her all that much. Ever since things had calmed down, no one had any need for the Saviour, nor Emma in turn. And her position of sheriff was relatively just for show, since her father technically became the sheriff when she went through Jefferson's hat and hadn't found it necessary to demote himself. She was certain no one would miss her, and if someone needed her, she would shift back quickly enough. As for her parents, she would just say she had found a place with Ruby, and use this room that they were brewing the potion in for a shower and a bed.
The only one left was Henry.
"So you want me to stay with mom for a while?" Henry asked skeptically.
Emma nodded. "Yeah kid, I figure it'd be good for your mom to have a regular schedule. If you're around, she will have a purpose."
It was a logical reason, so Henry agreed, and when he told Regina, she was so excited at having him constantly that she didn't think to ask about why Emma was doing this. She had been trying to block Emma from her mind, and had definitely not been one digit away from phoning Emma and demanding an explanation for the flowers. But she had promised herself she wouldn't. The minute that she made contact with someone else, things would go wrong, she was sure of it. No one wanted her anyway, so there was no great loss.
The potion was finally ready on Friday after simmering for a few days, and Emma was preparing herself to drink it. "It'll work out," she told herself encouragingly. Holding the cup up as if cheering someone, even though she was completely alone in the room, she downed the contents of the glass and gasped, feeling faint. Maybe she should've asked Ruby or Belle to be here as she drank this. Her final thought as she blacked out was that she really wanted to scratch her ear.
When she came to, she noticed that her body was a lot different, shorter and not proportioned properly, and she startled, standing up abruptly.
It had worked! She looked down at her front paws and saw the beautiful golden fur she sported. She tried to make a sound and she let out a bark.
Now, she had to go to Mifflin Street. Before she left, she had to grab a rolled up piece of paper for Regina written by Belle pretending to be Emma - who wouldn't admit that the former's penmanship outdid hers immensely.
She took it between her teeth, and hoped that she wouldn't slobber on it too much before she got to Regina's. As started to walk, Emma realized that it wasn't so simple to walk as a dog. She stumbled a bit and made some missteps, but eventually she was on Mifflin, and only then did she think to wonder what would happen if the barrier rejected her.
One thing was for sure, it would be painful as hell.
But she didn't let it deter her, and headed right for the entrance.
To her immense surprise, she made it through! Regina probably wasn't expecting any animals to waltz through or have any ulterior motive, but Emma wasn't focusing on that. She bounded up the walkway and pawed at the door, cursing her inconsideration at not having thought the plan fully through. She had to reach the doorbell, but it was too high for her to reach.
Then she remembered that she could always stand on her back legs and try. She placed the piece of paper down, got up, and faltered a few times as she tried to find her balance. Finally, she practically collapsed against the doorbell and fell back on all four legs when it rung, picking the piece of paper up once again. Then she waited, tail wagging.
The door finally opened, and Henry was standing before her.
"Who is it Henry?" she heard Regina ask from a bit farther back.
"It's a dog!" Henry excitedly exclaimed, moving to kneel before Emma and pet her.
Regina appeared after a moment, cautiously looking at the dog, and Emma let out a soft whimper. Regina had bags under her eyes and looked only to be a fraction of herself. She was pale and her face was drawn, but she still knelt beside Henry. "Huh, that is bizarre, I wonder if they have an owner."
Emma pawed at the piece of paper between her teeth and then set it down by Regina's knees. She sat on her haunches and waited, tongue hanging out and tail waving lazily.
Regina faltered at picking up the paper, so Henry did it instead.
"She's for you, mom!" he said after he was done reading. "Can we keep her?"
Glancing at the letter, Regina saw it was a simple message.
I thought she would be a good addition to your family.
PS: Coincidentally, her name is Emma too, but I'm sure she could go for something else if you don't like the name.
It was from Emma. She was apprehensive about taking the dog in after the flowers…was this an attempt at an apology for that? Or maybe this was a further move in the romantic sense, and accepting it would send Emma the wrong message.
Not that she didn't like Emma in that sense, she just doubted it would go anywhere because why would anyone willingly want to be in a long-term relationship with her?
Still, the dog did look adorable, with her large eyes and tilted head looking at her sideways.
"Please mom?" It had always been Henry's dream to have a dog, and even he was looking at her pleadingly.
"A few days only for now, and I am not calling her Emma," Regina stated. She might just end up calling her Princess…and she voiced it. "Yes, Princess sounds much better, wouldn't you say?"
Henry grinned and scratched the back of Emma's ears. "Yeah, Princess sounds great."
Emma could only let out a huff. Of course Regina would name her that.
And that's chapter 1!
For those wondering, I haven't given up on my other stories! I promise I'll get back to writing them soon!
This is just backlog. Let me know what you thought!